Hidden depths

Three-dimensional identities can stimulate thought about a company or they can come off like a cheap contemporary gimmick.

For example, 3D identities are created with flexibility of use and a plethora of media in mind, from print and on-line, to TV and mobile phone applications. They can move with balletic grace when necessary and change colour according to mood, season or fashion. Yet they can also be printed on a pack or letterhead without losing any of their original intent. Once conceived of in three dimensions, they can be brought to life with computer-generated imagery, which is relatively inexpensive for advertising agencies compared with live action filming.

Through their quality, complexity and novelty, these identities have become both eye-catching and economically viable launch vehicles for television and print campaigns – indelibly linking them to their brands from birth.

No One created a 3D marque in June for Sagitta, an asset management company that invests the wealth of extremely rich individuals. But the brand was not reflecting those aspirations. We decided the best way to redefine the company was to challenge the category language and introduce a 3D element to the work.

The re-worked marque is designed to extrude toward the consumer in an unexpected way – think Frank Gehry meets Stealth Bomber. It only reads as the company name from head on. After all, this is an elitist brand, and only those in the know need to understand it.

This concept has developed from the idea of being able to physically walk around a marque as if it is a sculpture, with different viewing angles creating different messages. I was always enthralled by the Time/Life window on London’s New Bond Street (sadly no longer there), where a seemingly random display of hanging metal bars slowly turned into the company name as you walked past.

Considering a brand identity as a three-dimensional object from the start can pay dividends when it comes to brand integration. Perhaps it’s time for older, more established brands to look at true re-invention in this way, instead of trying to renegotiate their credibility through ill-advised, trend-led tweaks. While well-intentioned, turning an existing identity into a 3D one is really just plastering over the cracks in a company’s communications strategy.

Many brands are short-lived, so shouldn’t we be designing for now? Marques are here today, merged, bought out or dissolved tomorrow. What better reason is there to create striking new ways of thinking about branding?

Three-dimensional identities communicate perfectly in our increasingly virtual world. After all, it’s the person that turns up to meet the client, rather than the person who presents via conference call, that usually wins the job. So perhaps it’s time to get your plasticine out and broaden your two-dimensional horizons.

David Law is co-founder of communications consultancy No One

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